What hap­pens to Obasanjo’s Coali­tion for Nige­ria?

Daily Trust - - INSIDE POLITICS - By Hamza Idris

Ex-Pres­i­dent Oluse­gun Obasanjo’s en­dorse­ment of his ex- deputy, Atiku Abubakar, after more than fif­teen years of in­tense ri­valry shocked the nerves of not a few Nige­ri­ans.

But diplo­mats be­lieve that there is no per­ma­nent friend or en­emy in pol­i­tics but per­ma­nent in­ter­est.

As the 2019 elec­tions draw nearer, po­lit­i­cal ac­tors with dif­fer­ent ide­ol­ogy, if there is any, are vig­or­ously set­ting aside a lot of is­sues, tire­lessly re­align­ing with a view to find­ing their foot­ing by en­sur­ing who be­comes what at the end of the day.

While Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari is said to have at­tracted a lot of en­e­mies by his ac­tions and in­ac­tions, an­a­lysts be­lieve those who think they would be bet­ter off with­out him at helm of af­fairs, feel it is bet­ter to sup­port “lesser evils” dur­ing the next round of elec­tions.

Obasanjo had for long “re­tired” from ac­tive pol­i­tics even as he has re­mained vis­i­ble in po­lit­i­cal dis­course. And while many are of the view that he lacked any po­lit­i­cal value, no­body can dis­pute that his pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive ver­dicts carry some weight within and out­side Nige­ria.

His “neg­a­tive salvo” on ex­Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan and sup­port for then can­di­date Muham­madu Buhari ahead of 2015 elec­tions had played key role in re-shap­ing po­lit­i­cal dis­cus­sions.

De­spite his pur­ported non­par­ti­san pos­ture, Obasanjo’s Otta res­i­dence has re­mained a Mecca of sort, with vir­tu­ally ev­ery politi­cian seek­ing rel­e­vance go­ing there to pay homage.

To many as­pi­rants, a sin­gle en­dorse­ment by Obasanjo would be like a dream come true. Many are al­ready ju­bi­lat­ing that per­haps, 2019 would be Atiku’s year of ac­com­plish­ment.

But the big ques­tion is: why is Obasanjo com­fort­able sup­port­ing Atiku on the plat­form of PDP, the po­lit­i­cal party he ‘cursed’ re­peat­edly?

In Jan­uary this year, Obasanjo in his ‘spe­cial state­ment’ mer­ci­lessly at­tacked Pres­i­dent Buhari and called for the es­tab­lish­ment of a third force, which he called the ‘Coali­tion for Nige­ria’.

The coali­tion, he be­lieved, would wrest power from APC and PDP, two par­ties he said had fallen short of the ideal.

In the state­ment ti­tled ‘The Way Out: A Clar­ion Call For Coali­tion For Nige­ria Move­ment,” he be­rated both the APC and the PDP, un­der which he be­came pres­i­dent and ruled for eight years.

And in May this year, the coali­tion fused into a newly formed po­lit­i­cal party, the African Demo­cratic Congress (ADC).

The Prince Co-con­vener of CNM, Ola­gun­soye Oyin­lola, said the coali­tion had ceased to ex­ist, hav­ing for­mally col­lapsed into a po­lit­i­cal party.

Oyin­lola added that the ADC would field can­di­dates for var­i­ous of­fices in­clud­ing the pres­i­dency.

But some politi­cians yes­ter­day cast doubt on Obasanjo’s cred­i­bil­ity and his abil­ity to live by his words.

The founder of Na­tional Demo­cratic Lib­erty Party (NDLP), Al­haji Umaru Mo­hammed Maiz­abura, said Obasanjo who is near­ing 80 should not be taken se­ri­ously.

“I am sure he has for­got­ten that that he had said so many things about Atiku. Obasanjo had said that it would amount to be­trayal of Nige­ri­ans if he ever sup­ports Atiku; now he has en­dorsed Atiku and I want Nige­ri­ans to judge him,” he said.

“He also said God should curse him if he ever sup­port Atiku, we would now wait for God’s ver­dict on Obasanjo,” he said.

Maiz­abura added that the fact that Obasanjo dumped his CNM and the ADC he adopted for PDP, is enough rea­son to con­clude that he can­not make any im­pact on his own. “He should have spon­sored an un­tainted pres­i­den­tial cani­di­date un­der ADC and win elec­tion...I think the fight we are go­ing to face in the com­ing months is be­tween us, the pro­masses who want Buhari and the the elite sym­bol­ized by the likes of Obasanjo,” he said.

Un­doubt­edly, Obasanjo’s ver­dict on ex- Pres­i­dent Jonathan had gen­er­ated de­bate in the past; but it is not yet clear if the clam­our this time around would have the de­sired im­pact.

For now, han­dlers of Pres­i­dent Buhari and can­di­date Atiku have all swung into ac­tion, vig­or­ously work­ing hard to outsmart each an­other in the po­lit­i­cal class board.

Obasanjo’s state­ment, how­ever, came un­der heavy crit­i­cisms from the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment.

The Chair­man of the Pres­i­den­tial Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee against Cor­rup­tion, Prof. Itse Sa­gay (SAN), de­scribed the for­mer Pres­i­dent’s cri­tique as in­sult­ing.

Sa­gay won­dered why Obasanjo, who at­tempted to get a third term, would ad­vise Buhari not to seek a sec­ond term.

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